Dale Custer Wins the Jack Smith Award

Blacksmith Organization of Arkansas
Presentation by Ron Wells to Dale Custer on March 8, 2014.

The Jack Smith Award was conceived by Bob Patrick and approved by the BOA membership to recognize members of BOA for their contribution to the organization.  Members Bob Patrick, Tom Upton, David Egan, Harold Enlow, and James Brantley designed and executed the award.  The award is called The Jack Smith Award in honor of Jack Smith for his extraordinary contributions to BOA.

Each recipient will keep the award for one year, each year beginning with the February meeting.  Each year’s recipient will be selected by the previous year’s recipient.  The award will be presented to the new recipient by the previous year’s recipient.

This year’s recipient has a long list of contributions to BOA.  He very seldom misses a meeting and travels a long distance to the meetings.  He was instrumental in organizing the new chapters of BOA and serves as Steward of the Little Rock Chapter.  He thus attends and is active in two meetings each month.  He attends the ABANA Conference every other year.  He handles the coal for the Little Rock Chapter.  He has set up BOA’s web site and nonprofit status.  He currently serves as chapter steward, BOA ABANA liaison, BOA vice president, and BOA board member.

Harold, as a previous recipient, will you help me present the Jack Smith Award to this year’s recipient, Dale Custer.

Dale Custer, Trying Not To Blush

Dale Custer with the Jack Smith Award


March 2014 Northwest BOA Meeting


March 8, 2014

Thanks to Ed and Susan Osoris for hosting the meeting and serving a great lunch.  Ed’s shop was very easy to find and had all kinds of metal parts and scraps laying around which is a blacksmith’s dream.  Ed had a forge up and running for our use.  It looked a lot better than the two portables that were brought along by members.  There was a lot of hammering going on throughout the day.It doesn’t take much to make a bunch of guys happy.

The midday meeting didn’t take a very long time but it was interesting.  Ron Wells handed over the Jack Smith award to Dale Custer who deserved it.  Dale was speechless.  The award is pretty heavy.  Dale will have to reinforce a wall to hang it up.

President, Justin, is still working on getting a hammer head making class together.  There was also talk about a class on how to build your own power hammer.  Each student would go home with his own hammer.

There were several folks visiting.  Ron Shierry was once a member and lives nearby.  It was good to see him.  Eric Willis visited and joined while he was there.  His infant son, Hayden, was along too.  Jerry Holmes visited and just happened to join, also.  Jerry had his grandson along who watched Jerry at the forge most of the day.  Jerry already makes knives.

Bryan Parsons handed out some information about next month’s meeting at Gentry.  It is held at the tractor show which is April 18, 19, and 20th.  Our meeting is on the 19th but you may attend any of those days if you like.  Hours are 8 to 5 on Friday and Saturday and 8 to 3 on Sunday.

Ron told me there were 22 members attending.


March 2014 CAC BOA Meeting

The March meeting of the Central Arkansas Chapter of the Blacksmiths Association of Arkansas (CACBOA) was held on March 15th at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) Applied Arts studio in Little Rock, Arkansas. We love meeting at the applied arts studio, with multiple gas forges and anvils, racks of tongs and hammers, helpful studio supervisors, and a coal forge and power hammer in a studio filled with art and architecture projects. It really gets the creative juices flowing. We try not to wear out our welcome, and typically only go there a couple of times a year – usually in July/August or December/January, since their facility is climate controlled. Save our more primitive outside forges for the spring and fall.

New Members Working On Dale's "Tom Sawyer" Project

New Members Working On Dale’s “Tom Sawyer” Project

At the forge, we had a demonstration of the use of a Beverly Shear, followed by some practical hands on experience as we helped Dale update some candle-cups that had been leaking wax. During Lent, his church uses more primitive offertory equipment. If you haven’t seen a picture of it before, ask Dale to show you the primitive pierced cross he made for the Lent processional, with assistance from Bob Patrick.
We had three new members in attendance, and after Dale’s “Tom Sawyer” project, we broke into some one-on-one time with more experienced members assisting the newer members with some small projects, including leaf keychains and a railroad-spike knife. Unfortunately, I missed getting a picture of these projects – they turned out very nice.
In our business meeting, we discussed the organization and benefits of the Blacksmiths of Arkansas (BOA) and ABANA. Dale and I are signed up for the hammer class in April, and at least one of the new members expressed an interest in joining as well. Call Dale if you are coming from the Little Rock area and are interested in car-pooling. Dale and I are also planning on attending the ABANA conference this summer. I don’t know about ride-shares, but if I find that anvil I’m dreaming about, I’m hoping Dale can haul it back to Arkansas in his truck for me!
Once again, we discussed demonstrating at some of the local events in order to increase awareness of blacksmithing past and present, and to attract new members. Two days after the meeting, we were contacted by the Faulkner County Museum and asked to provide a blacksmith demonstration at their November 1st Open House. They will have many other demonstrators of crafts and skills from the Arkansas territorial and early statehood period (1825-1875). If you are interested in assisting, contact Robert Fox. More details will be forthcoming as the event draws closer. Speaking of which, be sure to check out the recent changes to our BOA website at www.blacksmithsofarkansas.org. It is continuing to improve!

Dale Custor, Trying Not To Blush

Dale Custer, with the Jack Smith Award

Finally, Dale reluctantly showed us the Jack Smith service award he received in recognition of his contributions over the last year. I’ve lost track of how many offices he holds now – Vice President of BOA, Steward of CACBOA, BOA webmaster, ABANA Affiliate representative – If BOA is doing something, odds are that Dale is in there helping. I know Dale is the force-of-nature that pulled me into our local chapter when I first started. Congratulations, Dale! Well deserved.
Our April CACBOA meeting will be held on the second Saturday of the month, rather than the third, due to a conflict with the annual Tired Iron, antique tractor show in Gentry Arkansas. Our April meeting will therefore be held on Saturday, April 12th, at the forge of Thurston Fox (my father) in Mayflower, Arkansas. Directions will be emailed to CACBOA members. If anyone else is interested in joining us, contact me. The trade item is a gender-appropriate present for your significant other. I have two daughters who are always asking me to make them something, and I’m struggling for ideas that would appeal to the girls in my life.
– CACBOA Secretary, Robert Fox (rsfox@arkbluecross.com)

Leaf Bottle Opener

This project is takes the standard demonstration leaf, and incorporates it into a handy bottle opener, adding function to the form. Don’t we all have enough keychains?

No-Weld Bending Fork


One challenge with getting started in blacksmithing is making the tools you need.  You can make most of your own tools, but in order to make many of them, you first have to have other tools.  This project makes a bending fork hardy tool with almost no tools.

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